Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Casting A Story

First, let me say Happy 48th Anniversary to my beloved parents, James and Esther Bonam. And happy 47th birthday to my sister, Kathleen Boatwright. :)

Authors are all different, and we all have different methods of plotting, (or not plotting) creating characters, editing, and all the other hundreds of things that go into writing fiction. And when we're fairly new at it, we try lots of different methods to see what works for us.

After writing more than twenty novels and novellas, I've settled into a method that works for me, and part of that process is casting the characters. I'm a visual person, and it helps me to have a visual representation of my characters.

I've also found, through sharing some of these photos on my Facebook Page, that there are a lot of other visual people out there. :) The response to my characters' photos has been happily positive.

Here is the cast of characters from my current Work in Progress, A Bride For Bear, part of The Convenient Bride Collection releasing from Barbour in June of 2015.

Bear McCall, mountain man.
And this is Bear McCall, a mountain man who has no desire for a wife or a family but suddenly finds himself in possession of both. I found him on Pinterest :)

Emmylou Paxton, jilted mail-order bride.

This is a photograph of my heroine, Emmylou Paxton, who finds herself stranded in Denver. In reality, this is a photograph of Jennie Jerome Churchill, Lady Randolph Churchill, the mother of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. She was a noted beauty in her day, and when she moved from Brooklyn to England after her marriage, she was involved in more than a few scandals. She was considered one of the most beautiful women of her day. I found her by searching Google for women of 1874.

And these three little darlings are Miriam, Deborah, and Tabitha, the orphans that show up on Bear's doorstep. I was looking for three, redheaded girls about 10, 8, and 4. By searching on Pinterest, I found photos that reflect the personalities I want. Miriam is world-weary, the oldest, responsible, someone who has had to give up her childhood too soon. Deborah is outspoken and active, and she pretends that she's tougher than she is so as not to be hurt when people let her down. And Tabitha is so sweet. She's longing to be somebody's little girl. Sensitive to the needs of others, she's the first one to see the softy behind Bear's growls and snarls. :)

For me, having these photos is so helpful to keeping everyone in character and being consistent when it comes to characters' appearances. Another aid to me is helping make the characters different from other heroes, heroines, and children I've already written. Since I can see the differences in their faces, eyes, hair, expressions, poses, etc. it helps me keep them straight and unique from the other hundreds of characters I've created through the years.

Doing this kind of search in advance is also helpful when it comes time to submit cover art ideas. (Though in this case, since it is a novella collection, the publisher will design the cover without too much input from the authors, since there are so many stories represented it would be impossible to include everyone's characters.)

So, are you a visual person? Does it help to have a picture of a character or do you prefer to keep it all in your imagination?

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  1. Yes, it helps think of mannerisms, personality and chemistry between characters. I love the sound of this story! Can't wait to read it!

  2. Interesting post, Erica - and if "Bear" doesn't want those 3 beautiful little girls, I'll take them (LOL)!! I'm not a writer - but would like the visuals if I were - and enjoy visuals with other things.


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